|Order The Every Calorie Counts Cookbook from Amazon.Com|
|Order 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes from Amazon.Com|
|Order 500 More Low-Carb Recipes from Amazon.Com|
I promised I'd get the 'zine out by the end of the weekend!! Here it is, and I hope you like it. It's a bit shorter than the 'zine has been in the past, and I'm afraid that's how it's going to stay. What with writing a newspaper column every week, there's just a limit to how much I can do. But I love this ezine - I love having a direct line to you guys, I need the feedback I get from you, and I get a kick out of having total editorial control! So I'll continue to publish as I can, but look for future issues to be about this length, okay?
I heard from a bunch of you after the Webmaster sent out the special notice the other day - I thank you all so much for your patience, kind comments, and love. And guess what? I may be going back to QVC on Tuesday! Maybe I need to move to Philadelphia? I don't know for sure if I'm going, and if so what time I'll be on, so watch for another Special Notice.
If you skip everything else, you've got to make the recipe in this issue. It's way, way too good! But I hope you like the whole thing. Read on!
A bunch of people have asked me how I feel about the new C2 from Coca-Cola - Coke with half the sugar. My immediate reaction is, "They might as well advertise "Made with half the cyanide." This feeling, by the way, extends to Pepsi Edge, and the newly-minted lower-sugar versions of Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, too - they're garbage. That they're somewhat less egregious garbage doesn't change the fact that they're garbage.
I fear that people will decide that these reduced sugar products will be a green light not only to consume this refined, carb-y, nutritionless garbage, but a license to plow through even more of it than they may have eaten/drunk of the full-sugar counterparts. This is exactly what happened with fat-free processed foods - people decided that since Snackwells sandwich cookies were low fat, they could eat a whole package at a sitting. The result was not weight loss and improved health.
I'm unwilling to say that a can of Coke with "only" 5 teaspoons of sugar is "better" than Coke with 10 teaspoons of sugar. "Slightly less hideous" is about as far as I'm willing to go.
For years and years, mainstream health authorities have been denying that sugar is detrimental to health. The only proven ill-effect of sugar, they insist, is that it rots your teeth.
Of this there is no doubt. In his seminal work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration Weston Price, DDS, documented over and over and over again the ravages sugar and other refined foods brought to the teeth of "primitive" people all over the world as they first came in contact with such trash. In dozens of photographs Price showed the gleaming white, even, strong teeth of people who had always lived on their native whole foods diet (whatever that native whole foods diet might be,) and the nightmarishly bad teeth that within mere years of sugar, white flour, and other rubbish (Oh, I'm sorry, I meant "foods of civilization") being introduced. Today, not even the biggest apologist for sugar suggests that it's not bad for your oral health.
However, this is generally admitted in a dismissive tone, as in, "Oh, the only bad thing about sugar is it causes cavities." I think that a substance that can destroy the single hardest part of your body is sort of scary right there. But the sugar pushers aren't telling you the whole story.
You see, rotten teeth and bad gums can make the rest of you sick. How sick? Really sick.
First, the worse your teeth are, the more your nutrition will suffer. This is a common problem among the elderly - many have trouble chewing their food, and therefore don't eat enough, especially of foods like vegetables and meat, which are highly nutritious, but take a good deal of chewing. Malnutrition can, of course, lead to dozens of diseases, from scurvy to osteoporosis - both of which, ironically, can cause you to lose more teeth.
But did you know that gum disease can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke? The danger lies in having a long-standing infection in your mouth. The bacteria invade the bloodstream, and can attack your arteries. Too, much heart disease research is now focusing not on blood fractions like cholesterol and triglycerides, but on inflammation, and gum disease is, by definition, an inflammation.
Oral infections also can interfere with pregnancy, increasing your risk of miscarriage and premature birth. Research has shown that women with periodontal disease may be up to seven times more likely to deliver a premature low-birth weight baby. While the risk increases with the severity of the disease, even women with minimal signs of the disease are still at risk for low-birth weight babies. I've been seeing public service advertising recently regarding premature birth; apparently the rate has increased 27% since 1981. I find myself wondering sadly how many families could have been spared this harrowing experience simply by shunning the foods that rot their teeth and gums.
Diabetics have extra trouble with gum disease, apparently because of a weaker immune response. But research suggests that the relationship goes both ways. Periodontal disease may make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. Studies indicate that blood sugar stays higher, longer, in diabetics with gum disease. The result is a greater risk for diabetic complications.
Other than regular brushing and flossing, what is the recommended protocol for treating gum disease? Reduce carbohydrate intake, which in turn lessens plaque formation. This is absolutely standard medical wisdom, with not even a hint of controversy. As a little bonus, you'll find - perhaps you've found already - that by reducing plaque-forming foods, your breath will be fresher. Nothing ferments more rapidly in your mouth than sugar, and the residue it leaves is stinky indeed. (Which, by the way, makes sugary breath mints a product that sells itself. Eat a sugary mint to freshen your breath, and you'll need another 20 minutes later.)
Of course, there is a great deal of research backing up the dramatic health benefits of stable blood sugar, controlled insulin levels, and, of course, weight loss. But people who are still stuck in "Oh my God, you're eating meat and fat! You'll die of a heart attack!" mode tend not to be open to that evidence. That quitting carbs improves oral health, on the other hand, is inarguable, and the health effects of that improvement are turning out to be profound.
New Scientist Magazine reports this month that a recent study indicates that high protein diets reduce fertility. They suggest that women trying to conceive not remain on the Atkins diet. Do you need to pay heed?
Hey, I am not a doctor, nor even a medical researcher, nor do I play one or the other on television. However, there are some things I think you need to keep in mind:
* First, and most important, the study in question, done at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, was not a human study, but rather was done on mice and cows. In these two species, a high protein diet reduced the chances of an embryo emplanting in the uterine wall. Neither mice nor cows are species with a hunter-gatherer history; I find it a stretch to assume that a high protein diet would have the same affect on humans as on these animals. Which leads us to the fact that...
* The problem which leads to reduced fertility in mice and cows on a high protein diet is an increase in metabolic ammonium in the reproductive tract. Jeff Volek from the University of Connecticut at Storrs reports that ammonium levels do not increase in humans on the Atkins diet, which raises the question of whether ammonium levels increase in the reproductive tract. There is no evidence that it does.
* Studies of paleoanthropological evidence combined with studies of the few remaining hunter-gatherer tribes indicate that the hereditary diet of human kind for the most part consists of about 50% animal products, plus vegetables, fruit in season, nuts and seeds, and other plant matter - but not grains or beans (and of course, not sugar!) This would, of course, be a high protein diet. It seems unlikely that a diet that impaired human fertility would have lead to our being the most successful species on the planet.
* A very common cause of infertility is polycystic ovarian syndrome. How common? An estimated 70% of infertility problems stemming from ovulation difficulties come from PCOS. It is accepted that PCOS stems from hyperinsulinemia - carbohydrate intolerance - and a low carbohydrate diet is the first line of treatment. Indeed, I have heard from women with PCOS for whom a low carbohydrate diet was sufficient treatment to allow them to get pregnant.
* It's also important to remember that insulin-based illnesses are common during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes affects between 3-6% of pregnant women. Preeclampsia is also related to insulin levels, and is more common in obese women with insulin resistance. I find it doubtful that a diet high in carbohydrates during pregnancy is a good idea for anyone with a weight problem or insulin resistance.
In short, I am unconvinced that this is a big problem, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
If you are trying to get pregnant, and your doctor has determined that you have a problem with a fertilized egg implanting, or you're simply concerned, remember this: A low carbohydrate diet is not necessarily synonymous with a high protein diet. There is no reason why you can't eat 65 grams or so of protein a day - about 10-12 ounces of meat, eggs, or cheese - and make up the rest of your diet with low carb vegetables and healthy fats. Eat less meat and more avocados, healthy oils, olives, and nuts and seeds, to make up the rest of your calories. You could also look at some of the diets based on the glycemic index; I include one in How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds, but there are plenty of g-index diets out there.
I just hope that the coverage of this story doesn't convince women that they'd do better to eat cold cereal, white bread, and pasta when trying to conceive than they would to eat meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and plenty of salads. That would be a dreadful mistake.
Looking for something new to serve at your next cook out? This recipe, from The Low-Carb Barbecue Book, is one of my favorite hot appetizers of all time.
Avocado Cream Portobellos
Outstandingly delicious, and looks elegant on the plate, as well. Serve as an appetizer.
6 small Portobello mushroom caps
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 dashes hot sauce
1 little black avocado
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons minced red onion
6 slices cooked bacon
Remove the stems from your Portobellos (save them to slice and saute for omelets or the like!) and set the mushroom caps on a plate. Measure the olive oil, and crush one of the cloves of garlic into it, then stir in the thyme and the hot sauce. Using a brush, coat the Portobello caps on both sides with the olive oil mixture.
Next, cut open your avocado, remove the pit, and scoop it into a smallish mixing bowl. Mash it with a fork. Stir in the sour cream, the onion, and the other clove of garlic, crushed. Salt the avocado mixture to taste.
Now we have to get your bacon cooking. Lay it on a microwave bacon rack or in a glass pie plate, and nuke it on high for 6 minutes (times may vary a bit depending on the power of your microwave.)
While your bacon is cooking, go grill your mushrooms! Lay them on an oiled grill over well-ashed coals, or over a gas grill set to medium to medium-low. Grill for about 7 minutes per side, or until done through, basting frequently with the olive oil mixture - you'll want a water bottle for flare ups.
When your mushrooms are appealingly grilled, put them back on their plate, and march them back to the kitchen. Check your bacon; if it's not crisp, give it another minute or two, then drain it. Divide the avocado mixture between them, piling it high in a picturesque fashion. Crumble a slice of bacon over each stuffed mushroom, and serve.
6 servings, each with: 167 Calories; 14g Fat; 5g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 5 grams usable carbs.